A new lawsuit against Fox News alleges that Ed Butowsky -- a Trump supporter and unpaid Fox News commentator -- concocted Fox News’ discredited story that “Democrats might have been connected to [Seth] Rich’s death,” “which took flight online and ran in segments across” the network.
According to the lawsuit, Butowsky worked with the network to plant the story, which claimed that Rich, the former Democratic National Committee (DNC) staffer who was murdered, was in contact with WikiLeaks, which leaked committee emails during the 2016 campaign. The lawsuit states that in a May 15 email Butowsky encouraged network employees, including hosts of Fox & Friends, to draw the conclusion that “Russians did not hack our computer systems and ste[a]l emails and there was no collusion like trump with the Russians.” Butowsky also allegedly sent texts to the Fox News contributor he was working with on this story, Rod Wheeler, which asked him to use the same messaging in his interviews, including in a planned appearance on Fox News' Hannity. Butowsky was apparently hoping to kill reports of the ties between Russia and the Trump campaign.
Here are four segments that aired on Fox News the days after Butowsky made his requests showing hosts Steve Doocy and Sean Hannity pushing the talking point that the Rich story meant Russia wasn’t behind the DNC hack and leaks:
May 16: Steve Doocy: If the Seth Rich story is true, “it looks like Russia didn’t give to WikiLeaks.”
STEVE DOOCY (CO-HOST): For a long time on the internet and elsewhere, he has been rumored to have been the one who gave WikiLeaks the DNC emails. So, if that is true, and we don't know yet, it looks like Russia didn't give it to WikiLeaks. It was Seth Rich, perhaps. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 5/16/17]
May 16: Sean Hannity: “Explosive developments” in Seth Rich story “could completely shatter the narrative that in fact WikiLeaks was working with the Russians, or there was collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians.”
SEAN HANNITY (HOST): Also tonight, another massive breaking news story. Explosive developments in the mysterious murder of former DNC staffer Seth Rich that could completely shatter the narrative that in fact WikiLeaks was working with the Russians, or there was collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians. Now, if true, this could become one of the biggest scandals in American history and could mean that Rich could have been murdered under very suspicious circumstances. [Fox News, Hannity, 5/16/17]
May 18: Sean Hannity: “If Rich, in fact, was WikiLeaks' source for DNC email leaks, it would confirm Russia was not involved. … Wouldn’t that blow the Russian collusion narrative that the media has been pushing out of the water?”
SEAN HANNITY (HOST): Questions continue to swirl around the mysterious murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich. Now, following Rich's death, there was suspicion that he may have been the source of the DNC emails that were leaked to WikiLeaks, now -- not the Russians, as the left claims.
Now, if Rich, in fact, was WikiLeaks' source for the DNC email leaks, it would confirm Russia was not involved.
It gets more mysterious by the minute. If it was true -- we don't know yet -- if it was true that Seth Rich gave WikiLeaks the DNC emails, wouldn't that blow the whole Russia collusion narrative that the media has been pushing out of the water?
Based on what Julian Assange said in that Dutch interview, it sounds like he -- not 100 percent, but pretty close, to being -- to saying that “Wow, it could be Seth Rich.” [Fox News, Hannity, 5/18/17]
May 19: Sean Hannity: “What if it was somebody that was so disgruntled in the DNC at how they cheated Bernie and how the fix was in, if that turned out to be true that somebody did that, wouldn't that completely wipe out the entire Russia lie we've heard for months and months?”
SEAN HANNITY (HOST): I am not backing off asking questions even though there's an effort that nobody talk about Seth Rich. Now, I've interviewed Julian Assange on radio and TV many times, and I've asked him about where those WikiLeaks DNC emails came from that resulted in Debbie Wasserman Schultz's firing. This kid got shot in the back, they said it was a robbery, yet he had his watch, his wallet and his phone. I don't believe it's a robbery. But I asked Julian, was it the Russians? And then listen to what Julian said in a Dutch interview.
By the way, my thoughts and prayers go out to this family. Jay Sekulow, then I want Juan to really fully respond. If he says it's not Russia and he sounds, he comes so close to the line saying, “It was this kid.” Let's put the kid out of it for a minute; I feel sorry for his family. But what if it was somebody that was so disgruntled in the DNC at how they cheated Bernie and how the fix was in, if that turned out to be true that somebody did that, wouldn't that completely wipe out the entire Russia lie we've heard for months and months? [Fox News, Hannity, 5/19/17]